December 18

Jonny made a big burn pile today, so most of my kids are smudge faced and filthy right now.  They wrapped apples and carrots in foil and roasted them.  I know they ate the apples, not sure about the carrots.  We burned some crazy things like an old bed and piano bench.  We are doing a major overhaul right now, time to let lots of things go.  Jonny has his workshop emptied out in the yard, and it looks like a tornado hit.  We must look a little destitute because a neighbor’s relative whom we go to church with, called our church office and reported that we were in dire straits: no electricity, no heat, not enough to eat.  Crazytown.  I think I got that cleared up.  We’re just messy country folks, with a lot of (smudge-faced) kids running around, but thankfully we aren’t going hungry and the electricity is on (and has been).  I asked Jonny if maybe he might be able to hurry some of these messy projects along.  I doubt it!  And, people will talk, they always have, always will.  No harm done.

I put out some advent things, and then promptly put them back away.  Job and Silas are at a destructive age!  The nativity is on the mantle and it will stay, even though it’s been rearranged multiple times.  I am happy for the kids to play with it, and that is why we have a wooden one, but when they start chewing them, that is a problem.  The kittens are into all sorts of trouble, and I am sure they are going to love the Christmas tree.  I’m kind of giving up on making much pretty this year.  And I don’t feel too sad about that.  (Seth is reading over my shoulder, and pointing out that just last night I said that I was sad that I can’t make anything pretty.  Okay, he’s right.  But I came to terms with things over the past 24 hours.)  This is life with children and animals.  It’s good.

I am feeling motivated to set up some little Montessori practical life activities for Job, now I need to clean out our art cabinet to make room.  That cabinet always needs cleaning out! Today I got out pin punching for the first time in ages, and it was a hit.  Then they were back outside, where it’s actually a little chilly today.  The forsythia is blooming, and today on the way home from a friend’s farm (those are her white goats) we saw ornamental cherry(?) trees in full bloom!

Jonny is reading Adventures in Yarn Farming in the evenings, and last night he made me laugh when he matter-of-factly said, “I just skip over the knitting patterns.”  He is getting a little sheep crazy, I’m afraid.  I’m not ready for sheep.

One of you asked somewhere recently, maybe on my book list post, my thoughts on graphic novels for reluctant readers.  I didn’t reply straight away, thinking that I ought to do a post about that.  But I can sum up my thoughts pretty quickly.  I started purchasing graphic novels for my boys a couple of years ago, mainly Tintin, after they discovered them at a friend’s house and loved them.  One of my older boys was a very reluctant reader at the time, struggling and just not motivated.  But he would read Tintin!  He still picks up graphic novels from time to time, and we have bought some others over the years, but he mainly reads regular chapter books now.  He read The Chronicles of Narnia over the summer and is always up too late reading.  I used to have to assign books.  Not anymore!  So my feeling is that if you have a child who is having a hard time with reading, but is interested in graphic novels, they are worth a try.  They probably won’t ruin your kid’s potential for reading regular books later, but may actually help them reach that place.  That was definitely my experience.

Okay!  I think those are the scattered thoughts I wanted to share.  I hope you all have a great weekend!

(The cross stitch above is one I’ve been working on for too long.  It’s from this book.)


  1. rachelle galloway-popotas says:

    hi Ginny! Merry Christmas! I’m not sure if I’ve ever commented before but want to be sure to take this moment to tell you how much I enjoy your blog and how much it inspires me and moves me. I wanted to share this amazing website / company who creates some wonderful graphic novels including classics (like Call of the Wild and Swiss Family Robinson), mythology, and graphic biographies of great historical figures like Martin Luther King, Jr and Gandhi. My now 11-year old would only read graphic novels for a while when he was learning to really embrace reading and it greatly helped build a love of reading. I think the books are shipped from India and take a long time to arrive but they never go out of style!

    Thank you for sharing so much of your life with us.

    warm regards from Berkeley, California!~

  2. I second you on the graphic novels! My kids loved Tin-Tin.

    My son still isn’t a totally avid reader, but he does read some and he is a good reader. Tin-Tin were some of the first books he would pick up on his own and devour!

  3. How is Weasel doing? Is he still being naughty? 😉

  4. Beautiful O Antiphon ornaments! Can I ask where you got them? I’ve never seen such a thing and I love the idea.

    For the record, I can’t help but think how blessed your children are to grow up with open land, animals and freedom to roam and play – and each other! These are all great gifts you are giving them.

    I wish you blessings in these final days of Advent and on Christmas, and an abundance of joy in the new year!

    P.S. My husband (a voracious reader) is currently reading a graphic novel 🙂

  5. beautiful photos of your life and family! I think any book that a child is interested in reading is a good book. I let my kids choose their books and when the school (public) made them read according to their reading level that killed their reading love. Until summer time came around and they could read whatever they wanted!!

  6. We have a (sometimes messy) farm too, but everybody is happy and healthy! Years ago when our son was about 18 months old, my stepdaughter (who is much older) watched him happily playing in the mud while my husband cleared brush, and asked in complete horror, “Dad, is it OK for him to be so…DIRTY??” My husband laughed and told her that since he got a bath every night before bed, it was perfectly normal and healthy for little kids to get grubby!

  7. Maggie Gean says:

    Your whole family and life are brimming over with riches, all that stuff that money cannot buy. Sad that others close enough to visit you cannot see what a blessed and rich life you all have.
    I have lived so rural that they only came to read the electric meter in good weather, we ranched and paid that bill every fall, in advance so ran a credit and months could go by without the meter being checked.
    And my 2 young boys ran bare bottomed during the toilet training months, so much easier for them and for us adults, as they got that control worked out, they gained or were forced into clothing, first those tiny little briefs, and then into elastic waisted pants, and on into those with fastners, once they were ready. I can imagine the horror your neighbor would have had if they had seen us and our lives at that time. But we lived a rich and wonderful life, one that money could never purchase.
    Keep living your way and raising your children your way, I think it is working very well.

  8. oh boy, what stories your family is accruing! yes, would of helped if the woman had talked to you first… sigh, oh well,… I love how your family is so creative and unafraid to try new things. keep going! blessed week and weekend to you! much love!!! your family has a lot of beauty!

  9. I have to say I second your experience with graphic novels. I too had a very reluctant reader. When he found graphic novels a light was switched, especially if they were of novels he had seen his older sisters read (Percy Jackson, etc.) Once he got hooked to the story line via the graphic novels I found that he’d switch over to the regular novel. Now I find he often with a book in his hands for pleasure. The first time I found him reading like this I was so happy I almost cried as I truly thought I’d never see the day!

  10. Hysterical that someone reported you for being in a sad state of affairs! Oh my. Thanks for the smile you gave me with today.

  11. I just have to chime in here about Tintin & the like. I grew up reading them & my children now LOVE them! I have found them to be a fantastic bridge between picture books & chapter books. The children begin with the pictures, but inevitably they end up wanting to read the words & once they can read the words they are ready to try chapter books. Oh & they are still fun for adults to read too!

    I am sorry that the person made such assumptions about your family. As you mentioned, they were probably acting out of kindness & I imagine they are dreadfully embarrassed right now. However, they are pretty broad assumptions for someone who hasn’t been inside your home (as I presume they haven’t).

    I just want to say Happy Christmas to you & your family Ginny! I love reading your blog & look forward to catching up in the New Year!

  12. I so relate to the messy country folk part. Messy children part too. It’s whatever for now and probably for awhile. We live on a farm – I refuse to tell my children they can’t play outside because of dirt. My yard is currently covered in cardboard trash I was going to burn. Hauled it outside, got distracted, left it outside, and then a massive wind storm hit that night. I haven’t cleaned it up yet. That night a raccoon also decided to raid my trash bins which I forgot to cover tightly. It will be cleaned up by the 27th when we’re having a ton of people out, but until closer to then – Eh. I have Christmas crafting to finish and zero trash clean up motivation. What’s the point of rural living if you can’t get away with a little mess here and there 😉

    • “What’s the point of rural living if you can’t get away with a little mess here and there” So true, Cassidy! I read your comment aloud to Jonny. We totally relate!!

  13. Melissa McIntyre says:

    Jenny…. you’re beautiful! 😘 Have a blessed weekend!

  14. That picture of Seth and the rooster is just amazing. Is it a peaceful rooster? My grandparents used to have one as well, but that one was pretty aggressive. Yours, on the other hand, just looks so content.

    Sheep are my favorite animals, so I’m biased in that department. Curious to see if you guys ever get some. Until then, the goats are super cute, too!

    I teach college English, and in my experience ANY reading kids do helps tremendously. Besides, it’s wonderful to find a book you enjoy…so what if it’s a graphic novel? 🙂

    • He’s scared of Seth, and can be caught by him, but he chases the littles, and would probably chase me too, sensing my fear! I don’t like roosters! I think sheep are in our future, but a few years out…

  15. renee @ FIMBY says:

    I am a big proponent of graphic novels, and they made the world of difference for my dyslexic son when he was learning to read.

    My kiddos started on the classic graphic novels, Tin-Tin, Asterix and the like, but they have read many, many graphic novels since. The world of story telling, book writing and publishing has changed and whole art forms, manga for example, have come into existence around graphic novels.

    If you are concerned about twaddle you have to pick and choose a bit (but there are so many good graphic novels now) and until your teens are mature enough you can’t let them loose in the YA graphic novel section, too “graphic”.

    I live in QC where graphic novels are recognized and appreciated as their own art form. (As they are in the francophonie in general.) As as a mother of three very creative children, who love to draw, I love that graphic novels inspire art and reading together.

    You can tell, I’m a huge fan.

    Let the read books, lots of books, whatever (within reason of course) that will capture their imagination.

  16. I REALLY like your photo with your son and the chicken! So great. And your little guy at the top of the fence with his sister sweetly smiling at him. I have seven kids and sometimes people would call and during our conversation would hesitantly say in concern, “Do you need to go?” because of all the kid noise in the background. I didn’t even notice it = ). I really do think people aren’t used to big families anymore. But let’s hear it for kids!

  17. Oh dear, I’m sorry to hear of your neighbour experience but much can be said for your gracious response.

    I’m in full support of those kinds of books for reluctant, struggling readers. Tin Tin as well as some Civil War series were what drew our dyslexic child into really working at it and staying motivated.

    Love your goat girl’s gentle eyes!

  18. I love it – Jonny is interested in SHEEP: next you will have him knitting! Anything that gets your children reading is a good thing. Too bad the do-good neighbors or church members couldn’t have just had the nerve to ask what was going on with the household / yard in disarray. At least they were concerned though. Your Barn sweater is looking gorgeous. Tell everyone hello for me and have a great weekend yourself.

    Richard in Charlotte, NC

  19. Your yarn glows. It is so beautiful! Your kids glow, too–also beautiful :-).

  20. My son reads mostly graphic novels and our trusted librarian says she feels they take more skill to read.

  21. I’m interested in the O Antiphons. Did you make them?

  22. Ginny, I just love this blog. You must get tired of that comment, and I know I personally have said so more than once, but really, the way you talk about your everyday life is a gift. I feel such comradery here. Thanks for sharing.

  23. That cat-in-a-box photograph is SO good!

  24. Cindy in NC says:

    Years ago a neighbor’s son told his parents that we was concerned we didn’t have a clothes dryer because he saw our laundry in a clothes line. The child had never seen a clothes line before!

  25. There are so many times I am thankful not to have neighbors or else they would have probably reported us, lol, to each his own and yes, we are the messy family too.

    I agree with you on reading, give them something they will read and just watch them take off!

    Happy weekend my dear, have fun, mess and all.

  26. I love your attitude regarding the caller to your church. The call made me laugh, be sure to great the person with a huge smile on Sunday…and perhaps a pie! Through your pictures I can see how eventful your week has been, busy but fulfilling! I always enjoy reading your posts. Thanks Ginny.

  27. The light in your photos today struck me as especially lovely. Thanks for sharing those moments of beauty with us all.

  28. Perhaps the folks who called the church office were acting with compassion and kindness as their intent. I hope so. The person who answered their call at the church should have given them your website so they could see what your family is about. Or even better, they could have spoken with you personally with offers of help. As Catholics, we are called to serve not judge!

    Merry Christmas to you and your wonderful family, Ginny. God bless all of you.

    • I do think she meant well, just wish she had maybe talked with us first, and curious how she came up with her concerns. Nothing hurt but our pride!

  29. Lovely photos, as usual. Your nativity is beautiful!
    I agree with your thoughts on graphic novels. Although I am not a fan, myself, my 8 year old has been a reluctant reader and he loves them. I figure if it gets him reading, it’s better than nothing. 🙂
    Merry Christmas!

  30. Okay, have you got forsythia blooming out there? Lord, have mercy. Our trees in CT look to me like they’re getting buds on them – I’ll have to go out and look at closer range.

  31. Can I have that kitty? SO CUTE! I’ll take the nubby goat, too!
    You guys have a lot of good things going on. The chicken photo is priceless!

  32. Oh boy, others and their assumptions, ahem. (although at least they called the church and not the police 😉 )

    You have O Antiphons up! That’s two more decorations than we have in this house. I’d say you’re doing ok. And I forgot about pin punching! Thanks for the reminder.

    Apropos ideas from you, I have a big barrel of cotton fabric dyeing on my back porch. Prickly Pears. I think it is a failure. But dyeing cotton is difficult! Oh well. I tried.

    Peace be with you, Ginny!

    • Long talk with my friends in the church office about the fact that some people think lots of kids means poverty. sigh. Sorry the prickly pear isn’t working. I haven’t tried any dyeing with cotton.

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